A recent International Monetary Fund report that Venezuela will reach a 720 percent inflation rate this year — the highest in the world — has drawn a lot of media attention, but what I heard from a senior IMF economist this week was even more dramatic.Here are two comments from a Reddit thread:
Robert K. Rennhack, deputy director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere department, told me in an interview that Venezuela is on a path to hyperinflation — the stage where the economy reaches total chaos — and could reach a “total collapse of the economic system” in 12 to 18 months if there are no changes in economic policies...
Many Venezuelans believe the country will explode much sooner than in 12 to 18 months. Prices go up daily, supermarket shelves are near empty, there are growing electricity shortages — Maduro has declared every Friday in April and May a non-working holiday in order to save energy — and crime statistics are skyrocketing...
"Venezuelan here, living in Venezuela. I shared with you guys what life was like living in Venezuela a few months ago, but incredibly it has gotten worse. Back then we didn't have that many power outages. Now there are 4-8 hour outages everyday. Weekends start on Wednesdays. Water is coming super gross through the pipes. What I've noticed recently is that the country has nearly stopped "moving". That and you hear about looting nearly every week. Doing anything at the bank or at some public office takes you so many, unnecessary days because of the power outages. Most people I feel don't even want to work anymore now because the wages are too low and even if their wages were high there's not that much to buy. Food is the new money in Venezuela. If you have a lot of food then you are rich. It kinda feels like a Zombie Apocalypse but without the Zombies."
"I live in Venezuela and we don't even know how to prepare for what is coming. All I can do is work hard to buy as much stuff as I can and save a little bit in USD. Spending and getting into credit card debt seem like good strategies (because of the high inflation rate and a lot of things are cheaper here than abroad). However people like me don't really have a plan for when shit hits the fan. I have a large family here, so feel responsible for them so I won't leave the country. I have a good job and I'm able to buy the food my family requires. But still, I wonder how should I prepare..."
Venezuela, a country of 30 million that despite holding the world’s largest oil reserves has descended into a dystopia where food, medicine, water and electric power are critically scarce. Riots and looting broke out in several blacked-out cities last week, forcing the deployment of troops. A nation that 35 years ago was the richest in Latin America is now appealing to its neighbors for humanitarian deliveries to prevent epidemics and hunger.
The regime that fostered this nightmare, headed by Hugo Chávez until his death in 2013, is on the way out: It cannot survive the economic crisis and mass discontent it has created. The question is whether the change will come relatively peacefully or through an upheaval that could turn Venezuela into a failed state and destabilize much of the region around it.